Monday, August 14, 2017

AgroExpo Ready To Go

So if you want to go to a major summer farm show in Michigan, you have one choice.  And it's a good one.  That would be the AgroExpo.  Tuesday is the start of the 2nd AgroExpo held at the NCRS.  It moved from Farm 12 to Farm 3 for 2017 to enable better layout and accommodations.  Plus it's irrigated.  We have been preparing for it for several weeks of late.  Well actually all season if you count planting and taking care of the show plots.  Last Thursday Galynn gave me a ride in his airplane to get some farm pics.  This is where the AgroExpo will be. 
 Today (Monday) all sorts of folks were out making the final setup.  Actually the farm crew and several others (like our chairperson Ashley) were there all weekend.  Here we see Agronomist John, Stephanie and SAM Burt discussing who knows what.  But I'm sure it's relevant.
 Probably has something to do with getting this booth ship shape for tomorrow.  Hey, I see the flavonol bubbles.  Hopefully we can have sumo wrestling in them.  Now that would be a draw.
 There are outside and inside vendor booths.  We moved all of our equipment out of this barn.  Hardly recognize the place now.  But it will be packed I'm sure.
 Lots to see.  There are way more vendors and plots to see this year.
 And I was shocked by all of the equipment.  I guess I haven't been paying attention to all of the iron coming in.
And here's some big iron, or stainless steel.  It's our Super Tanker.  You won't see one on the road unless you're in Michigan or Canada.  Take that Ohio!
It takes more than a handful of NCRS people to make this a success.  Even though this is an independent show, being the host means you do the most.  So volunteers from the St. Johns office and Ashley plant are coming to lend a hand.  Plus arms and legs.  We took a tour to get familiar with the place.  Thanks everyone.
So Tuesday and Wednesday will be busy.  A lot of people and companies did all they could do to set up.  Let's hope lots of farmers pay a visit to learn and make connections for profit. In the words of Emil Faber: "Knowledge is Good."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Farm Guy, Star of St Johns Mint Parade

So if it's the second weekend in August, that can mean only one thing: The St. Johns Mint Festival Parade!  The small but loyal contingent of friends of AgroLiquid assemble at their spot in the staging area.  As usual, it's a big parade.  This year we are #80 with still more behind us.  I am a little worried about the group of horses and riders ahead of us.  But time to march!
The Festival theme this year is the St. Johns Stampede.  Sheriff Bruiser here in driver John's truck will keep things from getting too rowdy.
The streets were lined with citizens and visitors from far and wide who cheer the truck and Farm Guy.  There was plenty to be had from AgroLiquid like candy, tote bags, garden cushions and invites to the upcoming AgroExpo.
 The final stretch through downtown.
 Oh no!  Watch where your're going Farm Guy!
 Oh the humanity!  Isn't anyone going to help that poor man?
Relax.  This is Farm Guy.  I'm sure it's not the first time those boots have stepped in manure.  In no time he is back to his happy self representing Agro and farmers.
But isn't that why horses are usually at the end?  No matter, it was fun.  We were all glad to support the Festival Parade.

Friday, August 11, 2017

New Products in Colorado Crops

So in addition to airplane watching and riding, I had an opportunity to do some field checks with Aero Applicators agronomist Wes.  He has been doing sales and agronomy work for them for quite a few years.  However I noticed that I failed to include him in any of my pictures.  Oops.  Well go to aeroapplicators.com if you want to see Wes!

I just told about the Pinto Bean fertilizer test at the IRF the other day, and here is a real field.  This had 2.5 gal/A of Pro-Germinator + 2 qt/A of Micro 600 in the furrow.  They are looking real good as they go into early flower.  Micro 600 has a good fit in this high pH soil, as it has 2% sulfur and 2% iron, plus 1% zinc, 1% manganese, and lower amounts of copper and boron. 
This is an irrigated field that had High NRG-N + Pro-Germinator + Micro 600 applied by strip till. Then planted.  It looks good too.  There was a little hail damage seen on the lower leaves.  You can also see a lot of pollen on the leaves which kept me sneezing the rest of the day.  I've often wondered why some people are bothered by things that don't affect others at all. Like some people are happy to talk to me while some turn the other way when they see me coming.  Hmmm. 
 As mentioned the other day, hail is hit or miss every summer here.  It's usually not if, but when.  Or how bad.  This irrigated corn got hail earlier, but is doing ok now that it is making ears.  Another bad part of hail is that it lets light penetrate to the ground and you often see lots of weeds grow tall.  But this corn had Pro-Germinator + Micro 600 in furrow.
 Darrel has some dryland corn next to his runway where he and Wes do some testing.  In this field, all of the corn had 3 gal/A of Pro-Germinator + 1 qt/A of Micro 600 at planting.  The corn on the left had an additional 2 qt/A of C-Tech.  I could see that the corn on the left was taller and the silks were mostly all brown, while the corn on the right still had some green silk.
 This indicated that the 2 qt C-Tech corn was further along in development.  The picture below shows that.
The bacteria in C-Tech benefited from the wheat straw that was there that provided a carbon food source until the corn roots developed.  We are learning more about the influence of carbon and C-Tech.  Hopefully they can get some yield info on this to further help guide our Primagro line.  But it was a great couple of days up in Sterling, and the rest of Northeast Colorado.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Aero Applicators at Your Service

So if I'm in Colorado, I have to go see an old friend Darrel Mertens.  Darrel is owner/operator of Retail Partner Aero Applicators in Sterling.  I have known Darrel and his wife Deb for decades.  Aero Applicators is a top retailer of AgroLiquid by Air Tractor planes, ground rig and farmer application.  And even though Darrel is the boss of the operation, he will still give his planes a bath, even though he doesn't fly himself much these days.  He does direct traffic on the ground, and they were busy when I was there last week. 
Tommy here is one of his pilots and is a fellow Okie from Fairview.  He's just been here a couple weeks, but Darrel says he is a great young pilot.  Nice guy too.
 So Tommy is off to spray as veteran ag pilot Roger returns.  Roger farms in Illinois but has flown for Aero for a number of years.  They have another plane that is a larger model, but it is up fighting forest fires in South Dakota.  What an operation.  Today they are spraying Cercospora in sugarbeets and spider mites in corn.
Tommy gets airborne.  It was cloudy, but the rain was miles away.  And calm.  They were able to keep spraying into the afternoon which is rare.
So if you've read blog posts in the past, I always get a plane ride with Darrel to look at crops.  This time we would take his recently re-built Ag Cat spray plane.  It was a 1965 model that he and crew completely rebuilt themselves over a period of years.  Beautiful.  
We take off and circle back over the Aero Applicators compound.  That's the dirt strip just above the buildings.
 Right after we left Roger comes in to be re-loaded.
I think it was 7 years ago that I showed this pivot of corn that uses not AgroLiquid next to some pivots that do.  That is the non field under the plane with yellow corn from the high pH soil and a green field of Pro-Germinator and Micro 500 above it that looks much better.  Consistent and sustainable it is.
 Darrel flips the plane upside down to make sure my seat belt is fastened.  He doesn't mess around when it comes to safety.
So Darrel said we had to make a "simulated" crop dusting run in the old Ag Cat.  That's what she was built to do.  So we made a run over this corn field.  And at the end of the field we made a steep climb and turn and made another run the other way.  I guess I was sitting where the tank used to be. So it was a dry run. Was fun.  But I kidded Darrel that we weren't really low enough because there were no corn tassels on the axle.
So that was fun.  But I did more than watch planes fly.  Agronomist Wes and I looked at some customer fields too.  From the ground.  More on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

IRF Plots in CO

So last week I was on a fertilizer mission to Colorado.  I have reported from here in the past: the Irrigation Research Foundation (IRF) in Yuma (not Arizona, Colorado has one too).  It is in NE Colorado out in dry country.  But they are over the Ogallala aquifer that provides ample irrigation water and high-yielding crops.  The IRF is a non-profit research facility whose mission is to preserve and protect the aquifer with new technology.  They do all sorts of test plots for ag companies and the fees support the IRF.  
AgroLiquid has plots in irrigated corn and pinto beans.   They are preparing for their field day.  Unfortunately it is the same days as the AgroExpo, so I will be absent. But I wanted to put up signs for our plots for the visitors to see what we are doing.  We had nine plots.  This corn is looking really good now.
 Here is a close-up of one of the plot signs.  Strip till is very prevalent out here. The tests had Primagro P and N or High NRG-N and Pro-Germinator and accesS + Micro 500 or 600 in the strip till and Primagro P or Pro-Germinator + Micro 500 or 600 in-furrow.  C-Tech was also an additive with Pro-Germ in-furrow in another treatment. We have had good results here in the past, so hoping for more of the same this year with a variety of treatments.  (Yes, I know there are no rates listed, but that would clutter up the sign and if the visitors are interested they can read the Research Report or call the 800 number on the other side of the sign. But they should get the idea of what's up with the plots.) 
There were also Pinto bean plots.  I've never had Pinto bean plots here or anywhere, but they are an important crop here in Colorado and parts of Wyoming, and probably elsewhere.  And who doesn't like a serving of Pinto Beans?  But here is a view of two adjacent plots..  Both had High NRG-N + Pro-Germinator + accesS applied with strip till.  The plot on the left had 2.5 gal of Pro-Germinator in-furrow and the plot on the right had Pro-Germinator + 2 qt of Micro 600.   The wide guess row is the split.  But the right plot with Micro 600 was taller and darker green.  It was more obvious in person, but you should see it here.  Yield will tell the rest of the story.  But Micro 600 has shown good performance especially out West in high pH soils.  There was also a plot with Manganese, but did not show a difference like Micro 600 did.  You can also see something that concerned me here: the lack of weed control.  They said it was sprayed several times, and these are all pigweeds which are tougher to control now.  Weed control options are few in Pinto Beans. Hopefully the effect on yield will not mask the fertilizer effects. The plots are really long too which should help.
Well I was a little nervous out in the field as there was often thunder rumbling and lightning.  And there I was holding on to plot sign stakes.  I had on rubber-soled shoes. That's good, isn't it?  Well I'm still here. That's good, isn't it?  But I have seen corn  plots reduced to toothpicks from hail here in the past.  So hopefully the hail will stay away till after harvest. But I stayed safe and dry there.
But the skies did open up on me as I continued North on my next fertilizer mission stop.  I will say that there is no place to get out of the heavy rain out here.  No trees or overpasses.  So just crank the wipers and keep going.  Although a little slower.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Ag PhD Field Day Is Tops

So the last Thursday in July can mean only one thing: the Ag PhD Field Day in Baltic, SD.  Brian and Darren Hefty of the Hefty Seed Company and hosts of Ag PhD radio and TV shows have one of the finest field days anywhere.  There are exhibitors, plots and equipment that draw thousands from all over the US and 25 countries.  At the start of the day, Brian and Darren get on a flatbed and lead the attendees down the rows of plots and exhibitors talking about them and what they have to show.  See the AgroLiquid logo on the red and white tent in the background?
 The crowd then is free to visit with the exhibitors to learn more about what's new.
And that includes the AgroLiquid tent full of knowledgeable people to set you straight on crop fertility.

But there is more than just that one tent.  AgroLiquid was part of the first ever Learning Center as it was called.  This was a collaboration of several companies that worked together to feature a more complete crop input program from many angles.  It was AgroLiquid for nutrition, FMC for crop protection, Hypro for spray nozzle selection, and Farmer's Edge for decision making inputs.  There were a number of Agro plots.  Here we see Dr. Zouheir Massri showing how he measures beneficial microbe activity, ammonia volatility and nutrient movement in the soil.  I guarantee that there has never been a demonstration like this at this Field Day.  He was easily the busiest of the Agro crew with a steady stream of interested farmers through his root pit.  Darren Hefty, on the left in orange, listens to what Zouheir has found in is unique methodology.  In fact, Darren announced to the crowd on the tours that there was a world famous soil scientist on staff there.  And again on Friday as we were driving back to Michigan he talked about Zouheir and his work on the daily Ag PhD radio show.  So now Zouheir is even more famous and will certainly be demanding top billing and his own dressing room.  
NCRS Researcher Tim talks to some farmer attendees about the fertilizer and planter plots.  Although that is long-time Agro customer Marvin Krohn on Tim's right who also sells Liquid fertilizer, seed and Precision Planting equipment.  I have know Marvin for close to twenty years.  That's his "little" boy on Tim's left that I used to see when visiting his  farm in Minnesota.  Good to see them.
As in the past, there are a variety of things for entertainment, like the Vanguard Squadron of stunt planes.  There are four of them that do all sorts of aerial acrobatics.  What is unique is that the planes run on 100% ethanol fuel.  I still shake my head in my home state of Oklahoma where the gas stations advertise that their fuel has no ethanol because those Okies think ethanol harms engines.
 Well would these planes be able to make a heart indicating their love of ethanol if their engines were at risk?
So that was fun.  I have been to every Ag PhD field day since 2010 and it is a treat to see the growth and learn what is new each year.  I almost forgot to mention that ALL of the plots for all of the chemical and seed companies are fertilized with AgroLiquid fertilizer.  No wonder they look so good. Give your crops a gift of top nutrition from AgroLiquid.  I mean we don't do all of this work just to look good at shows.  Although we do.  As one of the speakers said: It's a great time to be in Agriculture!

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Last of Last Week in Sask.

So in addition to the Ag In Motion trade show and seeing AgroLiquid crops on the farm, there was also some contract research nearby to visit.  An important crop up in Saskatchewan, as well as in several states, is the oilseed crop canola.  It is mostly in early to full bloom now.  It really adds color to the countryside.  The canola looks good but can use some rain.
This researcher runs large-scale plots.  Each individual plot is 30 x 400 feet.  And there are four replications.  We are testing different treatments, rates, new products like Micro 600 and Primagro, plus foliars.  Looks good to me.
These plots were planted with this customized Seed Master drill, seen here parked at the Ag In Motion show.  It is also used to plant most of the demonstration plots at the show.
Here is a close-up of the canola at about 30% flower.  The flowers will make cylindrical pods filled with tiny canola seeds.  We grew canola at the NCRS many years ago.  It is a challenge to harvest. Well, harvest it right that is.  It's tough to shatter the small pods and keep the fans just right to blow out the trash and not the seeds.  May have to try canola again some day.  Maybe.  
Here we see researcher Dean and Retail Partner Kellen checking some canola roots.  Not just for growth but also for root maggots.  Yuck.  That is a problem in some areas this year, as we saw elsewhere.  But these are nice and maggot-free.
So that was a fun time.  I like seeing well-run research plots.  Drought and maggots please stay clear.